The Application of Precision Forestry Technologies in Logging Operations
Type of Degreedissertation
Forestry and Wildlife Sciences
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This study analyzed the use of precision technologies in logging operations, more specifically the use of machine monitoring systems, global positioning system (GPS), and geographic information systems (GIS) to monitor and document logging operations. A mail survey addressed to forest landowners in Alabama assessed their level of knowledge and interest in precision technologies. The objective was to identify potential adopters and approaches to introduce these technologies to landowners and foresters. Survey results showed a low level of GPS/GIS knowledge but a high interest in learning or adopting the technology. The youngest, wealthiest, and best educated landowners were identified as potential adopters. The practical applications of precision technologies in logging were evaluated by using machine productivity and positional data to conduct productivity analysis, to map and document machine activities, and to develop GIS tools to assist harvest planning. Logging crews conducting thinning operations in Alabama were monitored using a machine monitoring system (Multidat) which collected machine operating hours and positional data. Additional information (gross production data, inventory, and maps) was provided by the loggers and landowners. Results indicated that data and analysis of machine monitoring systems can be valuable tools in providing accurate machine information for logging productivity analysis. A major benefit to logging contractors is the availability of the machine performance data to manage people and machines and to plan and budget for operations. A technique that can potentially provide operational maps of the harvested areas was presented for mapping and documentation purposes. Results indicated promising applications for the technique as an accounting tool that logging contractors can use to document activities, as an update to GIS systems highlighting potential issues with stand maps, and as a first map for landowners with little mapping information. The positional, production, and map were modeled in GIS to estimate minimum skidding distances and compare those to actual traveled distances. The result is a wander factor that can be used to more accurately assess skidding productivity. The analytical techniques described show potential to benefit loggers and landowners. Significant technical and analytical challenges remain in implementation of those technologies.